Usability and getting private sector users onboard are the keys to the success of the Department of Internal Affairs and NZ Post's new RealMe universal logon and ID verification system. So says a manager whose company runs one of the largest user verification databases in the country.
On government sites like the Companies Office, RealMe has replaced the old "iGovt" logon system (people can use their old iGovt logon name and password for the new system). Kiwibank, owned by NZ Post, is also adopting the new ID system.
"Historically iGovt has been dreadful to access and use, and has gotten in the way of making stuff happen rather than enabling it," Trade Me head of operations Mike O'Donnell tells NBR ONLINE.
"That’s why it never really took off. Usability will be crucial to making RealMe work, so they will need to have the country’s best user interface folk working on it. And the people building it will need to be very good at real-world execution to make it a meaningful proposition for everyday Kiwis."
Neither Mr O'Donnell nor Trade Me is involved with the RealMe working group, but he has discussed the project with KiwiBank - one of several banks accessing whether to adopt the system.
"As NZ Post’s offline business gets increasingly knocked around by the move to online, it makes good sense for them to seek to pick up digital projects or launch their own like YouPost and YouShop," Mr O'Donnell says.
"With RealMe, the challenge will be the extent to which NZ Post can supplement the compulsory users they will get from government services with voluntary users from the private sector."
One of the kickers to private sector uptake will be the new Anti Money Laundering (AML) legislation which may see some private sector operators who are judged to be financial Institutions undertake customer due diligence, including identity verification, Mr O'Donnell says.
"Depending on how the AML is implemented, it may create a market opportunity for RealMe."
Trade Me is has its own its own proprietary trust and safety mechanisms including identifier tools. "They work pretty well for us. At this stage we have no intention of using RealMe," Mr O'Donnell says.
Only as good as your password
"There is an increasing need for a strong and reliable verification service, and the DIA is taking on considerable responsibility as the provider of this service," NetSafe executive director Martin Cocker says.
"Users of the service should be reminded that the service can only be as strong as their password, and should choose a particularly strong password for this service. That password should also be unique. Most 'hacked' accounts are actually accessed because users used the same password on another site that was compromised."
ABOVE: A DIA/NZ Post promo clip for the new service.
EARLIER: The Department of Internal Affairs and NZ Post have today soft-launched a new single log-on and verification service called RealMe, developed in concert with Datacom for around $10 million.
The new service went live yesterday as "igovt" logons to the Companies Office were replaced by RealMe.
There are around one million igovt logons although some people have created more than one.
RealMe works on two levels.
One a single logon name and password that can be used across 13 government agencies.
The other is to verify your identity - which after initial online registration requires a real-world trip to a post office to have your photo taken.
NZ Post is charged with commercialising the technology, and driving RealMe's adoption by the private sector.
Head of agency services Mandy Smith tells NBR that NZ Post is in advanced negotiations with several banks and insurance companies. She expects announcements to be made within weeks.
"We know it's light on services at launch," NZ Post spokesman Michael Tull told NBR yesterday.
There is no fee involved for end users. NZ Post will make money by charging organisations for each time someone's identiy is verified by RealMe, Ms Smith says.
Re-verification will be required once every five years, says David Philp, general manager identity andd ata services for the Department of Internal Affairs.